How KFC took over the World!
KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) has come a long way from its humble origins inside a single gas station in North Corbin, Kentucky. The brand is now one of the largest, best-known fast-food franchises in the world, and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who fails to recognise the salt and pepper hair and suit of Colonel Sanders. While the incredibly delicious chicken has played a part in that success, the brand has also made efforts to adapt to each new market, evolving in some pretty unexpected ways.
KFC’s strategy formulated through its operations in China following the early 90s. Experts at the Harvard Business Review described the approach as “remarkably clear” and one that embodied five truly essential elements. These included:
- Blending Chinese culture to be an integral part of the brand
- Expanding into remote areas & otherwise lacking fast-food eateries
- Developing a vast supply chain Organisation
- Imparting extensive training in customer services
- Owning rather than franchising the restaurants
With over 22,000 locations worldwide, KFC is a dominant player when it comes to expanding globally. Their worldwide marketing strategy centers around localisation — each country with KFC has a localised menu that caters primarily to unique local tastes and preferences.
The brand has items on the menu unique to its countries around the world. In the Philippines, you can chew down on the double down dog; a hot dog served in a bun made of chicken.
Meanwhile, you can enjoy tiramisu exclusively at KFC France
Gallop a chunk of nachos at KFC Australia
and throughout Asia, you’ll find Chizza. This pizza-like dish uses a piece of chicken instead of a traditional pizza crust.
Since Japan expresses a preference for dark meat over white meat and serves rice bowls and bento boxes familiar to Japanese consumers, KFC Japan knows no slouching when it comes to marketing. The brand also introduced a frankly dangerous all-you-can- eat chicken promotion in summer.
KFC India adopted an efficient strategy to attract local customers by expanding their vegetarian menu options in 2012. Items like the Veg Zinger, Paneer Zinger, Potato Krisper Burger, and Hot Veg Snacker aimed to sweep India’s sizable vegetarian market off its feet since up to 42% of Indian households are vegetarian.
KFC and Chinese market got off on the wrong foot when it translated “finger- lickin’ good” into Chinese characters meaning “eat your fingers off”. KFC China has since expanded rapidly by abandoning the American market model of a limited and cheap menu that focused on takeout and instead, reflecting China’s influential restaurant dining culture.
Brand perception is the key to success when considering a marketing strategy. Positive brand portrayal and interactions attract new customers and encourage existing customers to return for more. From a globalisation perspective, healthy branding strategies enable consumers to conceive a foreign brand as local. Much like KFC, big players have mastered this approach, with experts suggesting that the greatest reward to said approach is that many consumers around the world believe the businesses are local. Effective and efficient communication is a vital aspect of business success, regardless of location, and such exchange becomes exponentially crucial for companies expanding worldwide.
KFC is an excellent example of a brand taking localisation a step further. The company urges local executives to go for a dynamic, focused on local customers approach when implementing programmes and practices for locations outside of the States, enabling franchisees to conduct their businesses following local tradition and norms.
By Ira Mahajan